CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001]
This application is related to the following commonly assigned U.S. patent applications which are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety: “Method Of Forming Buried Conductor Patterns By Surface Transformation Of Empty Spaces In Solid State Materials,” Ser. No. 09/734,547, filed on Dec. 13, 2000; “Method Of Forming Mirrors By Surface Transformation Of Empty Spaces In Solid State Materials,” Ser. No. 09/855,832, filed on May 16, 2001; “ThreeDimensional Complete Bandgap Photonic Crystal Formed By Crystal Modification,” Ser. No. 10/053,003, filed on Jan. 17, 2002; “Low K Interconnect Dielectric Using Surface Transformation,” Ser. No. 10/106,915, filed on Mar. 25, 2002; and “Method Of Forming Spatial Regions Of A Second Material In A First Material,” Ser. No. 10/118,350, filed on Apr. 9, 2002.
TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002]
The present subject matter relates generally to cellular materials and, more particularly, to cellular materials having a preciselydetermined arrangement of voids formed using surface transformation.
BACKGROUND

[0003]
It has been proposed to use cellular materials for a wide range of structural, mechanical and thermal applications using both metal and nonmetal materials. These cellular materials include spaces or voids embedded within a solid.

[0004]
Cellular materials provide interesting combinations of physical and mechanical properties. One advantage provided by cellular materials involves lightweight construction. For example, cellular materials are capable of realizing a higher stiffness and a lower density for a given weight.

[0005]
The relationship between the stiffness (S) of a flat panel, the Young's modulus (E) of the panel material (representing the ability of the panel material to resist elastic strain), and the thickness (h) of the panel can be represented by:

S∝E×h^{3}. (1)

[0006]
Assuming that the panel maintains a constant footprint area and a constant weight, the relationship of the density (ρ) and the thickness (h) of the panel can be represented by:
$\begin{array}{cc}h\propto \frac{1}{\rho}.& \left(2\right)\end{array}$

[0007]
Substituting Equation No. 2 for h in Equation No. 1 results in Equation No. 3.
$\begin{array}{cc}S\propto \frac{E}{{\rho}^{3}}.& \left(3\right)\end{array}$

[0008]
Cellular material that has imperfections such as the lack of uniformity and closure of the voids can be characterized by the following experimentallyfound exponential relationship between the Young's modulus (E) and density (ρ).

E∝ρ^{2}. (4)

[0009]
Substituting Equation No. 4 for E in Equation No. 3 results in Equation No. 5.
$\begin{array}{cc}S\propto \frac{1}{\rho}.& \left(5\right)\end{array}$

[0010]
The following observations can be made for panels constructed of imperfect cellular material (i.e. material with nonuniform voids and/or lack of closure of voids). For a panel of a given footprint area and a given weight, constructing the panel to be twice as thick (2h) (Equation No. 2) using imperfect cellular material half as dense (ρ/2) results in a panel that is twice as stiff (2S) (Equation No. 5). For a panel of a given footprint area, constructing the panel to be half as thick (h/2) using imperfect cellular material half as dense (ρ/2) results in a panel that maintains a given stiffness (S) and that is half the weight. Thus, imperfect cellular material provides certain benefits related to the relationship between density and stiffness as provided by Equation No. 5.

[0011]
A perfect cellular material with uniform and closed voids is expected to provide a linear relationship between the Young's modulus (E) and the density (ρ), as represented by Equation No. 6.

E∝ρ. (6)

[0012]
Substituting Equation No. 6 for E in Equation No. 3 results in Equation No. 7.
$\begin{array}{cc}S\propto \frac{1}{{\rho}^{2}}.& \left(7\right)\end{array}$

[0013]
The relationship between the stiffness (S) and density (ρ) as expressed in Equation No. 7 is expected to be approached when the voids in the cellular material become more uniformly spaced and when a majority of the voids in the cellular material are closed voids.

[0014]
The following observations can be made for panels constructed of material that approaches a perfect or ideal cellular material (material with uniform voids and closure of voids). For a panel of a given footprint area and a given weight, constructing the panel to be twice as thick (2h) (Equation No. 2) using perfect cellular material half as dense (ρ/2) is expected to result in a panel that is four times as stiff (4S) (Equation No. 7). For a panel constructed of a given footprint area, constructing the panel to be one fourth as thick (h/4) using perfect cellular material half as dense (ρ/2) is expected to result in a panel that maintains a given stiffness (S) and that is ¼ of the weight. Thus, it is desirable to form cellular materials with uniform and closed voids.
SUMMARY

[0015]
The above mentioned problems are addressed by the present subject matter and will be understood by reading and studying the following specification. The present subject matter provides cellular materials with precisely determined arrangement of voids using surface transformation. In various embodiments, the cellular materials are suitable for use in various structural, mechanical and/or thermal applications.

[0016]
In various embodiments, the preciselydetermined arrangement of voids provides the cellular material with voids that are more uniformly spaced and with a majority of voids that are closed voids such that a relationship between stiffness (S) and density (ρ) for the cellular material approaches that of a perfect cellular material (S∝ρ^{−2}). In various embodiments, the preciselydetermined arrangement of voids provides the cellular material with a predictable mechanical failure for a given force. In various embodiments, the preciselydetermined arrangement of voids provides the cellular material with an anisotropic stiffness.

[0017]
One aspect of the present subject matter is a method of forming cellular material. According to various embodiments of the method, a predetermined arrangement of the plurality of holes is formed in a volume of material through a surface of the volume of material. The volume of material is annealed such that the volume of material undergoes a surface transformation in which the arrangement of the plurality of holes is transformed into a predetermined arrangement of at least one empty space below the surface of the volume of material.

[0018]
One aspect of the present subject matter is a structure of cellular material. According to various embodiments, the structure includes a solid structure of material having a welldefined melting temperature and a welldefined annealing temperature below the melting temperature suitable to perform a surface transformation process. The structure further includes a preciselydetermined arrangement of a plurality of voids formed within the solid structure. The plurality of voids is separated by a critical length (λ_{C}) that is dependent on the radius (R_{C}) of a number of holes used to form the plurality of voids using the surface transformation process. In various embodiments, a majority of the preciselydetermined arrangement of the plurality of voids within the solid structure are closed and approximately uniformly spaced to provide the structure of cellular material with a uniform density. In various embodiments, the preciselydetermined arrangement of the plurality of voids are arranged within the solid structure to provide the structure with a predictable mechanical failure for a given force.

[0019]
These and other aspects, embodiments, advantages, and features will become apparent from the following description of the present subject matter and the referenced drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020]
[0020]FIGS. 1A1F illustrate a process to form cellular material with a sphereshaped empty space, according to various embodiments of the present subject matter.

[0021]
[0021]FIGS. 2A2C illustrate a process to form cellular material with a pipeshaped empty space, according to various embodiments of the present subject matter.

[0022]
[0022]FIGS. 3A3B illustrate a process to form cellular material with a plateshaped empty space, according to various embodiments of the present subject matter.

[0023]
[0023]FIGS. 4A4E illustrate the formation of empty spheres from initial cylindrical holes with the same radii and with varying length.

[0024]
[0024]FIG. 5 illustrates a transformation formed stack of empty plates with a large filling factor or low density.

[0025]
[0025]FIG. 6 illustrates fourteen representative unit cells of space lattices which can be constructed according the present subject matter.

[0026]
[0026]FIG. 7 illustrates the cubic P unit cell shown among the fourteen representative unit cells of FIG. 6.

[0027]
[0027]FIGS. 8A8B illustrate a process for forming a cubic P lattice of spherical empty spaces according to the present subject matter.

[0028]
[0028]FIG. 9A9D illustrate a process for forming a simple illustrative structural unit of empty spheres having two radii.

[0029]
[0029]FIG. 10 illustrates a method for forming cellular material, according to various embodiments of the present subject matter.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0030]
The following detailed description of the present subject matter refers to the accompanying drawings which show, by way of illustration, specific aspects and embodiments in which the present subject matter may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the present subject matter. Other embodiments may be utilized. Structural and logical changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present subject matter. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the present subject matter is defined only by the appended claims, along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.

[0031]
The present subject matter provides a cellular material with a preciselydetermined arrangement of voids (also referred to herein as empty spaces) using a surface transformation process. The volume of solid in which the voids are formed has a welldefined melting temperature. The solid is annealed in a temperature range below and near the melting temperature to transform a predetermined arrangement of holes through a surface of the volume into the desired predetermined arrangement of voids. These cellular materials are capable of being engineered for various structural and mechanical applications.

[0032]
In various embodiments, the preciselydetermined arrangement of voids provides the cellular material with voids that are more uniformly spaced and with a majority of voids that are closed voids such that a relationship between stiffness (S) and density (ρ) for the cellular material approaches the relationship for a perfect cellular material (S∝ρ^{−2}). The uniformity, density, and space symmetry of the cellular material is precisely determined by controlling the diameter, depth and position of an initial arrangement of cylindrical holes formed through a surface of a solid. In various embodiments, the holes have a generallyelongated shape extending into the volume away from the surface. In various embodiments, the holes have a generally cylindrical shape. The present subject matter is not so limited, however.

[0033]
In various embodiments, the preciselydetermined arrangement of voids provides the cellular material with a predictable mechanical failure for a given force. In various embodiments, the preciselydetermined arrangement of voids provides the cellular material with an anisotropic stiffness.

[0034]
When a solid is heated to a higher temperature, a solid with a hole that is beyond a critical length (λ_{c}) becomes unstable. For the purposes of the analysis provided below, the holes are referred to as cylindrical holes. Upon reading and comprehending this disclosure, one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that holes which are not geometrically cylindrical can be used in a surface transformation process, and further will understand how to form a predetermined arrangement of voids using holes that are not geometrically cylindrical.

[0035]
The cylindrical hole is transformed into one or more empty spheres formed along the cylinder axis. The number (N) of spheres formed depends on the length (L) and radius (R_{C}) of the cylinder. Two models of diffusion are the surface diffusion model and the pure volume diffusion model. With respect to the surface diffusion model, for example, the relation between the cylinder length (L), cylinder radius (R_{C}), and number of spheres (N) is expressed by the following equation:

8.89×R _{C} ×N≦L≦8.89×R _{C}×(N+1). (1)

[0036]
Equation (1) predicts that no empty spheres will form if L<8.89×R_{C}. Each empty sphere that forms has a radius (R_{S}) expressed by the following equation:

R _{S}=1.88×R _{C}. (2)

[0037]
If the cylinder has sufficient length L to form two spheres, the centertocenter spacing between the spheres corresponds to the critical length (λ_{C}) and is provided by the equation:

λ_{C}=8.89×R _{C}. (3)

[0038]
The pure volume diffusion model provides similar results, with slightly different constants. For example, depending on the exact magnitude of the diffusion parameters, λ_{C }can vary from 9.02×R_{R }to 12.96×R_{R}. One of ordinary skill in the art will understand, upon reading and understanding this disclosure, that the diffusion model is capable of being determined by experiment. The remainder of this disclosure uses the surface diffusion model. One of ordinary skill in the art will understand, upon reading and comprehending this disclosure, how to apply this disclosure to another diffusion model.

[0039]
Various shaped empty spaces or voids such as sphereshaped voids, pipeshaped voids, and plateshaped voids are capable of being formed under the surface of a volume of material with a welldefined melting temperature. The shape of the empty spaces formed during the annealing conditions depends on the size, number and spacing of the cylindrical holes that are initially formed at a lower temperature.

[0040]
Various predetermined arrangements of empty spaces or voids are capable of being formed under the surface of a volume of material with a welldefined melting temperature. For example, an appropriatelysized deep trench in a material with a welldefined melting temperature is transformed into empty spheres along the axis of the original trench at an annealing temperature within a predetermined a range below the melting temperature. The empty spheres are uniformly sized and spaced. Other predetermined arrangements are provided below.

[0041]
[0041]FIGS. 1A1F illustrate a process to form cellular material with a sphereshaped empty space, according to various embodiments of the present subject matter. A cylindrical hole 110 is formed through the surface 112 of a volume of a solid material 114. As used here, the term hole refers to a void that extends from a surface of the volume into the solid material and that is defined by the solid material. The material 114 is heated (annealed) and undergoes the transformation illustrated in FIGS. 1B through 1F. One of ordinary skill in the art would understand, upon reading and comprehending this disclosure, that the desired annealing temperature is dependent on the welldefined melting temperature of the material. The result of the surface transformation process is an empty sphere formed below the surface 112 of the volume of material 114.

[0042]
In order to form a single sphere, which holds true for forming a single pipe (FIGS. 2A2C) or plate (FIGS. 3A3B), the length (L) and radius (R_{C}) of the cylindrical holes are chosen such that equation (1) with N=1 is satisfied. A vertical stacking of N empty spaces results if the length of the cylindrical holes is such that equation (1) is satisfied.

[0043]
In order for single surfacetransformed spheres to combine with other surfacetransformed spheres, the centertocenter spacing (D_{NT}) between the initial cylindrical holes will satisfy the following equation:

2×R _{C} <D _{NT}<3.76×R _{C}. (4)

[0044]
Satisfying this equation prevents the adjacent initial cylindrical holes from touching, yet allows the adjacent surfacetransformed spheres to combine and form pipe and plate empty spaces, as shown in FIGS. 2A2C and FIGS. 3A3B and described below.

[0045]
[0045]FIGS. 2A2C illustrate a process to form cellular material with a pipeshaped empty space, according to various embodiments of the present subject matter. A linear array of cylindrical holes
210 is formed in a surface
212 of a solid material
214. The cylindrical holes
210 have a centertocenter spacing (D
_{NT}) as calculated using equation (4). The material
214 is heated (annealed) and undergoes the transformation illustrated in FIGS. 2B through 2C. The result of the surface transformation process is an empty pipeshaped void
218 formed below the surface
212 of the volume of material
214. The radius (R
_{P}) of the pipe
218 is provided by the following equation:
$\begin{array}{cc}{R}_{P}=\sqrt{\frac{8.86\times {R}_{C}^{3}}{{D}_{\mathrm{NT}}}}.& \left(5\right)\end{array}$

[0046]
[0046]FIGS. 3A3B illustrate a process to form cellular material with a plateshaped empty space, according to various embodiments of the present subject matter. A twodimensional array of cylindrical holes
310 is formed in a surface
312 of a solid material
314. The cylindrical holes
310 have a centertocenter spacing (D
_{NT}) as calculated using equation (4). The material
314 is heated (annealed) and undergoes the transformation illustrated in FIG. 3B. The result of the surface transformation process is an empty plateshaped void
320 formed below the surface
312 of the volume of material
314. The thickness (T
_{P}) of a plate
320 is given by the following equation:
$\begin{array}{cc}{T}_{P}=\frac{27.83\times {R}_{C}^{3}}{{D}_{\mathrm{NT}}^{2}}& \left(6\right)\end{array}$

[0047]
The present subject matter forms cellular material using surface transformation. In various embodiments, the present subject matter forms a preciselydetermined arrangement of voids using surface transformation to provide a cellular material with a relationship between stiffness (S) and density (ρ) approaching that of a perfect cellular material (S∝ρ^{−2}). In various embodiments, the present subject matter forms a preciselydetermined arrangement of voids using surface transformation to provide a cellular material with a predictable mechanical failure for a given force. In various embodiments, the present subject matter forms a preciselydetermined arrangement of voids using surface transformation to provide a cellular material with an anisotropic stiffness.

[0048]
The size, shape and spacing of empty spaces is controlled by the diameter, depth and spacing of holes (or trenches) initially formed in a material that has a defined melting temperature. Empty spaces or voids are formed after annealing the material in a temperature range below and near the defined melting temperature. The empty spaces or voids are capable of being formed with a spherical shape, a pipe shape, plate shape, various combinations of these shape types, and/or various dimensions for the various shape type and combinations of shape type.

[0049]
The volume of air incorporated in the surface transformed empty spaces is equal to the volume of air within the initial starting pattern of cylindrical holes. Thus, the surface transformed empty spaces do not cause additional stress in the material or a tendency for the material to crack.

[0050]
The surface of the volume of material will be smooth after the surface transformed empty spaces are formed if the initial cylinder length (L) is equal to an integer of a critical length (λ_{c}) such as 1×λ_{c }to form one sphere, 2×λ_{c }to form two spheres, 3×λ_{c }to form three spheres, etc.. If the cylinder length (L) is not equal to an integer of a critical length (λ_{c}), then the surface will have dimples caused by air in the cylinder attributable to the length beyond an integer of a critical length (λ_{c}). That is, for a given length L and λ_{c}, the number of spheres formed is the integer of L/λ_{c}, and the remainder of L/λ_{c}, contributes to the dimples on the surface.

[0051]
[0051]FIGS. 4A4E illustrate the formation of empty spheres from initial cylindrical holes with the same radii and with varying length. Initial cylindrical holes are represented using dashed lines 410. These initial cylindrical holes 410 have the same radius (R_{C}) and are drilled or otherwise formed to different depths as represented by FIGS. 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E. The resulting surfacetransformed spheres 416 are illustrated with a solid line, as are the surface dimples 417 that form when the cylindrical hole depth is not an integer multiple of λ_{C}. These surface dimples can be removed using a simple polishing process to leave a smooth surface with uniform and closed spherical voids within the material. The vertical position and number of the spherical voids is determined by the depth of the initial cylindrical holes.

[0052]
In various embodiments of the present subject matter, the cellular material is formed by appropriately spacing the holes such that, upon annealing the material to provide the surface transformation process, the voids are uniformly spaced (or approximately uniformly spaced) throughout the volume of the cellular material. The uniformly spaced voids provide the cellular material with a uniform density from a macroscopic level.

[0053]
In various embodiments, a cellular material is designed to have a predetermined mechanical failure at a predetermined site for a given force by forming the voids with a predetermined shape, a predetermined size, and/or a predetermined arrangement. Thus, in various embodiments where the cellular material is incorporated into a mechanism, certain components of the mechanism are formed with cellular material that has been designed to fail in a predictable site and for a predictable force to protect other components of the mechanism such as a shear pin to protect a motor and the like. The components designed to fail are cheaper and/or more easily replaced than the components protected by the components designed to fail. In various embodiments where the cellular material is incorporated into a case, chassis or shell of a device, for example, the case, chassis or shell can be designed to withstand certain forces and to absorb certain forces either isotropically or anisotropically. In various embodiments, for example, the cellular material is incorporated into the case of a portable device (such as a laptop computer, portable phone, or personal digital assistant (PDA) and the like) to reduce the weight of the device, maintain or increase the stiffness of the case, and absorb certain forces (such as a fall and the like) from damaging the electronic components.

[0054]
In various embodiments, it is desirable to provide a cellular material with a very low density within appropriate constraints for the ability to withstand various strain forces. FIG. 5 illustrates a transformation formed stack of empty plates with a large filling factor or low density. For example, the illustrated filling factor is approximately equal to 0.78, which provides a relatively high porosity and a relatively low density. In the illustrated example, the surface transformation produces a vertical stack of empty plates in the materials. The number of empty plates formed depends on the length of the holes. From equation (6), it is determined that the thickness T_{P }of the empty plate has a maximum value of 6.95×R_{C }when D_{NT }is near the minimum allowed value of 2×R_{C }as inferred from equation (4). From equation (3), the centertocenter spacing (λ) of empty plates is 8.89×R_{C}. It can be calculated that f≈0.78. Thus, it is expected to be able to use surface transformation to form cellular material with a density of less than one fourth that of a solid volume of material.

[0055]
In various embodiments of the present subject matter, a plurality of space group symmetries of empty spheres of equal size are formed in a solid material. FIG. 6 illustrates fourteen representative unit cells of space lattices which can be constructed according the present subject matter. For simplicity, only the cubic P unit cell of FIG. 6 with a lattice constant “a_{0}” is explained. One of ordinary skill in the art will understand, upon reading and comprehending this disclosure, how to form the other unit cells illustrated in FIG. 6.

[0056]
[0056]FIG. 7 illustrates the cubic P unit cell shown among the fourteen representative unit cells of FIG. 6. A defined set of cylindrical holes are drilled or otherwise formed into the solid material to form empty spheres
716 of the same radius in the solid material at each of the illustrated unit cell lattice positions. For simplicity, the formation of one unit cell in the xy plane and n unit cells in the z direction is discussed. Additional unit cells in the xy planes are formed by repeatedly translating the hole pattern for the unit cell in the x and y directions. From equations (2) and (3), spheres are created with periodicity a
_{0 }in the Z direction by drilling or otherwise forming the holes in the Z direction such that the radius of the holes (R
_{C}) are represented by the following equation:
$\begin{array}{cc}{R}_{C}=\frac{{a}_{0}}{8.89}\approx 0.11\times {a}_{0}.& \left(7\right)\end{array}$

[0057]
After surface transformation, the radius, R
_{S }of each formed empty sphere is:
$\begin{array}{cc}{R}_{S}=\frac{1.88}{8.89}\times {a}_{0}\approx 0.212\times {a}_{0}.& \left(8\right)\end{array}$

[0058]
In order to form n unit cells in the Z direction through surface transformation, the depth (L_{n})of the initial cylinder in the Z direction is:

L _{n}=(n+1)×a _{0}=(n+1)×8.99×R _{C}. (9)

[0059]
To form a single cubic P unit cell in the Z direction, n is set to 1 for the two deep arrangement of spheres such that the cylindrical holes are formed to the following hole depth:

L _{1}=2×8.89×R _{C}=2×α_{0}. (10)

[0060]
[0060]FIGS. 8A8B illustrate a process for forming a cubic P lattice of spherical empty spaces according to the present subject matter. Referring to FIG. 8A, four cylindrical holes 810A, 810B, 810C and 810D of radius Rc=0.11×a_{0 }are drilled or otherwise formed into the solid material 814 from an upper surface 812 to a depth L=2×a_{0}. The four cylindrical holes 810A, 810B, 810C and 810D are spaced apart along the x and y axes at a distance a_{0}. The solid material is annealed near its melting temperature to form sphereshaped empty spaces 816A, 816B, 816C, 816D, 816E, 816F, 816G and 816H by surface transformation at desired sites of the cubic P unit cell as is shown in FIG. 8B.

[0061]
One of ordinary skill in the art will understand, upon reading and comprehending this disclosure, that the unit cells of each primitive lattice in FIG. 6 can be formed to have equal sized empty spheres at each lattice site by drilling or otherwise forming in the Z direction an appropriate pattern of cylindrical holes of the same diameter in the xy plane. The prescribed depths for these unit cells will generally be different.

[0062]
In various embodiments, space lattices having more than one size of empty spheres in the unit cell are formed by drilling or otherwise forming initial cylindrical holes of more than one radius. In various embodiments, the holes are formed in more than one direction. The number of surface transformation annealing steps used to form the space lattice depends on the structure to be formed. A method to form a simple illustrative structural unit of empty spheres is described below.

[0063]
[0063]FIGS. 9A9D illustrate a process for forming a simple illustrative structural unit of empty spheres having two radii. The desired structure has four empty spheres of radius R_{S}=0.212×a_{0}, and four empty spheres of radius R_{S},=½×R_{S}=0.106×a_{0}. All of the empty spheres have a closes centertocenter spacing of a_{0}/2. The process to form the abovedescribed structure is illustrated in FIGS. 9A, 9B, 9C and 9D.

[0064]
In FIG. 9A, two cylindrical holes 910A of radius, R_{C}=0.11×a_{0 }and of length L=2×a_{0 }are drilled or otherwise formed in the Z direction. The solid material is annealed to effect surface transformation and form the four spheres 916A with R_{S}=0.212×a_{0}, as shown in FIG. 9B.

[0065]
In FIG. 9C, two cylindrical holes 910B are drilled in the ydirection. These holes 910B have a radius R_{C}=0.055a_{0}, and a length Z′=a_{0}. Again the material is annealed to effect surface transformation and the four smaller empty spheres 916B to form the desired structure shown in FIG. 9D. The second annealing step only effects the cylindrical holes since they are not energetically stable. The four previously formed larger empty spheres are stable since they were formed during the first annealing.

[0066]
Another method for forming the structure in FIG. 9D involves forming the cellular material in various deposition layers and forming the voids using a surface transformation process (i.e. hole formation and annealing) for each layer before a successive layer of material is deposited. Using this method, the structure illustrated in FIG. 9D is formed by a first deposition process, a first surface transformation process, a second deposition process, a second surface transformation process, a third deposition process, a third surface transformation process, a fourth deposition process, and a fourth surface transformation process. Each surface transformation step includes hole formation and annealing. For each layer, the hole formation pattern is calculated to achieve the desired spacing of resulting voids, both between and within layers, after the layer is annealed.

[0067]
One of ordinary skill in the art will understand, upon reading and comprehending this disclosure, that a number of void arrangements are capable of being formed, a number of void sizes are capable of being formed, and that various combinations void arrangements and void sizes are capable of being formed. One of ordinary skill in the art will understand, upon reading and comprehending this disclosure, that various different shapes of empty spaces can be formed, and that these various different shapes of empty spaces can be combined with other shapes of empty spaces. For example, a cellular material can include a number of sphereshaped voids, a number of pipeshaped voids, a number of plateshaped voids, and various combinations of sphereshaped void(s), pipeshaped void(s), and plateshaped void(s). One of ordinary skill in the art will understand, upon reading and comprehending this disclosure, that the various shapes can be stacked, and that various different shapes can be stacked together. For example, an arrangement of spheres can be stacked on top of an arrangement of plates. Additionally, each stack of voids can include various shapes. The preciselydetermined arrangement of empty spaces is determined by the position, depth and diameter of the holes formed prior to the annealing process.

[0068]
The figures presented and described above are useful to illustrate method aspects of the present subject matter. Some of these method aspects are described below. The methods described below are nonexclusive as other methods may be understood from the specification and the figures described above. One aspect provides a method for forming cellular material.

[0069]
[0069]FIG. 10 illustrates one embodiment for forming cellular material. According to various embodiment, a volume of material is formed or otherwise provided at 1020. Holes are formed in the volume of material at 1022. At 1024, the volume of material is annealed to cause surface transformation. The surface is heated rapidly to a temperature within a region below and near a welldefined melting point of the material to transform the holes into buried empty spaces. The result of the surface transformation is that the holes that were previously formed in the volume of material are transformed into empty spaces under the surface of the volume. These empty spaces lower the density of the volume of material and increase the stiffness of the material. In various embodiments, the use of the surface transformation technique allows the preciselydetermined arrangement of spaces to be arranged in such a manner as to maximize the amount of void space. In various embodiments, the use of the surface transformation technique allows the preciselydetermined arrangement of spaces to be uniformly spaced and closed. In various embodiments, the use of the surface transformation technique allows the preciselydetermined arrangement of spaces to provide cellular material with a predictable mechanical failure for a given force.

[0070]
The cellular material of the present subject matter is capable of being used in a wide range of structural, mechanical and thermal applications. A few applications are provided below. These applications are not intended to be an exclusive listing of all the applications for the cellular material of the present subject matter.

[0071]
One application involves lightweight construction. The cellular material of the present subject matter possesses a desirable relationship between stiffness (S) and density (ρ) which allows lighter weight materials to perform the same mechanical functions. This characteristic is desirable in the transportation industry such as automobiles, trucks, trains, airplanes, ships, and the like. This characteristic is also desirable for portable items such as such as suitcases, laptop computers, PDAs, cell phones, briefcases, and the like. This characteristic is also desirable for eyeglasses, and various sporting equipment. This characteristic is also desirable for products in general to reduce the costs associated with shipping and assembly.

[0072]
One application involves crash absorption. Crash absorption is desirable for vehicle safety. For example, various embodiments incorporate the cellular material into easily replaced crash boxed designed to safely absorb the force of a crash. Crash absorption is also desirable to protect and provide robustness for devices such as laptop computers, cell phones, video cameras, digital cameras etc. For example, various embodiments incorporate the cellular material of the present subject matter in an outer shell designed to absorb the force of a fall or other crash. Another example involves the use of breakaway parts that are designed to be easily and cheaply replaced, and that are designed to break to absorb a crash and protect other more expensive components.

[0073]
One application involves anisotropic stiffness. For example, various embodiments incorporate cellular material with anisotropic stiffness into a package design such that the package is designed to be easily opened while still protecting the packaged articles from damage caused by falls and other accidental environmental elements.

[0074]
The present subject matter provides the ability to form cellular material with a preciselydetermined arrangement of voids using surface transformation. In various embodiments, the preciselydetermined arrangement of voids include uniformly spaced and closed voids that provide the cellular material with a desirable relationship between density and stiffness. In various embodiments, the preciselydetermined arrangement of voids provide the cellular material with a predictable mechanical failure.

[0075]
Although specific embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that any arrangement which is calculated to achieve the same purpose may be substituted for the specific embodiment shown. This application is intended to cover any adaptations or variations of the present subject matter. It is to be understood that the above description is intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive. Combinations of the above embodiments, and other embodiments will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reviewing the above description. The scope of the present subject matter includes any other applications in which the above structures and fabrication methods are used. The scope of the present subject matter should be determined with reference to the appended claims, along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.